If you thought the corrections officer who drove his giant truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters back in August, then kept driving, might face consequences for putting so many people in danger, guess again!
A grand jury in Rhode Island on Wednesday declined to bring charges against Thomas Woodworth, the man who was seen on video piloting his pickup toward a group of Jewish activists that had gathered for a demonstration against Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Rhode Island’s Wyatt Detention Center in August. Woodworth was the facility’s captain. In video, he can be seen driving toward the protesters while blaring his horn, causing members of the crowd to scream and leap out of the way, then driving at least a full truck length into the crowd as several people attempt to block his path. At least two people were injured during the incident, and then three others were treated for exposure to pepper spray, after other corrections officers later sprayed the crowd with mace.
BREAKING: Here is HD video of an ICE guard driving his truck into us as we sat peacefully blocking the Wyatt Detention Center.
We’re putting our bodies on the line because we see the camps and the roundups. We’ve learned from our ancestors: NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE. pic.twitter.com/KnOu5xoOEb
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) August 15, 2019
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha tells the Providence Journal that as part of an “extremely thorough” investigation, the state interviewed more than 70 witnesses and reviewed dozens of videos, and says the grand jury “worked hard to carefully sort through all the testimony and evidence.” But ultimately its members declined to indict Woodworth or any of the other guards involved in the incident.
Back in August, Woodworth’s behavior brought swift condemnation from the activists. Gov. Gina Raimondo said at the time that she “share[d] the outrage that Rhode Islanders” felt about the video. Woodworth resigned shortly after the incident.
Never Again Action, which organized the protest, said it was “greatly disappointed”by the grand jury’s decision, and expressed their dissatisfaction with state prosecutors, who they said built a case for Woodworth during the grand jury proceedings.
“We are greatly disappointed that Mr. Woodworth will not be held accountable for his irresponsible, dangerous, and violent actions against peaceful protesters on August 14, nor will the officers who recklessly deployed pepper spray into the crowd that night,” the group wrote in a statement. “Yet, we are not surprised. Witnesses who testified before the grand jury, including those who were hit by the truck, reported that prosecutors focused only on the supposed ‘danger’ of unarmed protesters in an effort to justify Woodworth’s and his colleagues’ self-evidently indefensible actions. This strategy, employed by Attorney General Neronha’s prosecutors, is used repeatedly by investigators across the country probing police violence against citizens.”
RELEASE: We condemn Rhode Island @AGNeronha‘s failure to pursue charges against the guard who assaulted our protesters with a truck. This makes visible both the violence of the system & the unwillingness to hold perpetrators of that violence accountable. https://t.co/8T4xftVMf2
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) October 23, 2019
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/10/23/truck-protesters-rhode-island/
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